It’s often said that you can’t love someone whom you know little about. We’re talking of a different kind of love that’s far removed from being “lovestruck” over a celebrity one has never even met in person. Instead, we’re referring to the love that one may feel for a romantic partner or for family whom you have spent much time with and have really gotten to know.
The same principle also applies to self. Knowing and understanding more about the complex being—that’s you— will allow you to love and appreciate yourself more. And this brings us to what we’ll talk about—self-intimacy.
Defining Self Intimacy
In a nutshell, self intimacy is connecting with your inner self. It involves peeling off layers of your outer defenses to get to the core of who you are, sans all the artifice.
Self intimacy is interlinked with self-love. You can’t hope to love yourself if you don’t know the core of who you are. Let’s dig deeper by breaking down self intimacy in terms of self-love.
While self love is generally a healthy and positive concept, people can take it to a fault—and turn it into narcissism. This involves an excessive fascination or admiration for oneself as being the center of the universe.
The opposite of extreme self love is echoism. An echoist suffers from the fear of being perceived as a narcissist. They undermine themselves and run away from attention and praise. Therefore, they tend to overgive and under-receive, regardless of their needs and wants.
Self intimacy is neither of the two extremes. It involves looking at oneself with loving eyes and embracing all imperfections and weaknesses. At the same time, it also means being honest. Someone who is deeply intimate with themselves has a healthy sense of self. They can appreciate their strengths and positive attributes, yet at the same time, be willing to change, improve, and grow where possible.
Self Intimacy Exercises
Self intimacy is a requisite to having a well-balanced concept of oneself. This results in healthy self-love, allowing you to be at peace with yourself and enjoy meaningful relationships with others.
But self intimacy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience with yourself. The best time to start is now. Begin your self intimacy journey with these practical tips, and discover more of who that person is in the mirror.
1. Have regular quiet time
It’s easy to be caught up in the daily grind. Before you know it, another day, week, or month has whizzed by, and you find yourself asking, “Where did the time go?” One can quickly feel out of control and lose touch with oneself as they drown in many urgent to-dos. Keep life from slipping away by being intentional and scheduling your quiet time.
Although quiet time can include reflecting on your goals and determining where you’re at, it goes beyond merely assessing your “performance.” Quality quiet time allows you to turn your thoughts inwards so you can pay attention to your overall wellbeing. How do you feel at this very moment? What are you thinking? It involves not just talking but also carefully listening to yourself, so you’ll better understand and take care of your needs and desires.
2. Take a best friend’s perspective
If you find it uncomfortable to be by yourself, perhaps it’s because your inner voice is treating you poorly. To have a healthy conversation with yourself, you may need to step back and take the point of view of someone else who is more empathetic and less critical and judgmental.
Imagine yourself having a conversation with someone you genuinely care about. If that person is sad or depressed, you wouldn’t tell them to quit moping and snap out of it. Instead, you would ask about how they feel and what they’re going through. You would give them plenty of time to speak freely about their emotions as you listen with an open mind and a gentle spirit. Then, being the good friend that you are, you’ll likely want to help them as best you can by giving an encouraging word, pointing out their strengths, and also suggesting ways to help them overcome their weaknesses where they can. Step back, look in from the outside, and be your own best friend.
3. Journal your life
You may say that journaling can also mean having quiet time— and it is. However, we’d like to mention journaling separately because of how it can distinctly enhance self intimacy.
First, journaling gets you in that frame of mind where you actually sit down and have an honest and fearless yet kind conversation with yourself. It allows you to express your thoughts while disciplining you to make sense of them through words. Seeing the state of your heart and mind in writing will enable you to validate them. It also relieves you of pent-up emotions, which helps you understand and manage your feelings better. Set aside time to write every day, and you may soon discover that it can be one of the most comforting and de-stressing self intimacy exercises.
The second benefit of having a journal is that it can serve as your life chronicler—the good things, the bad things, even the mundane things. It’s like having a silent and supportive witness to yourself as you evolve over the years. Aside from helping you save your memories, it enables you to remember them “in the first place” by encouraging you to be more observant and mindful about your experiences. And every time your pen kisses that journal, it helps cancel your insecurities by reminding you that your thoughts and feelings are worth writing about.
4. Spend some time away from social media
Listening to yourself requires the absence of distractions and negativity. Yet how often do you disregard your inner voice and instead spend more time on social media, paying much attention to the words of others who may hardly know you or give a hoot about you as a person? Don’t get us wrong—constructive feedback, when properly laid out, can help you grow, but you have to consider if it’s from people who have your best interests at heart. It’s so common for people to carelessly throw words in online conversations that, often, they can be more damaging than beneficial. Be conscious of how much time you spend on social media. It just may spell the difference between a healthy or destructive self-perception.
5. Date yourself
Have you ever had alone time and discovered that you took much pleasure from your own company? Whereas the self intimacy exercises we recommended earlier may focus on being introspective, dating yourself is more about being in the present and having fun. Let’s go back to the best friend analogy. There are plenty of times when you’d talk about your thoughts and feelings. But there would also be moments when you would just want to experience things or indulge in your favorite hobbies or interests. Simply hanging out with yourself can help you appreciate yourself better, which can boost your self-worth. You may even be surprised to learn things you didn’t know about yourself, such as having a great sense of humor or being passionate about certain activities. It can be any experience, from taking a walk, watching a movie, even something as laidback as relaxing with a glass of wine.
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